Christmas is almost here, and you want to surprise the photographers in your life with something they’ll love without breaking the bank. With these eight gift suggestions that cost less than $100, you can finish your shopping now and enjoy a relaxing holiday break.
If there’s one thing photographers hoard more than lenses, it’s bags. This Lowepro bag is on the smaller side, fitting a camera body and 2 or 3 lenses. It also has a side strap for a tripod and a waterproof cover that you can pull over it. This is the bag I use when I’m on the go and need a lightweight and versatile kit that won’t slow me down. It’s great for short hikes, walk-around shooting, events, and vacations. It’s also a great bag for beginner photographers, big enough to hold a full crop sensor camera kit or mirrorless ensemble.
This is a cool little device that makes setting your white balance quick and easy. Especially for people shooting sports and events, it can be important to get white balance correct in camera, and this little device helps to speed up the process. While studio shooters spend time calibrating with a color passport, on location photographers shooting on the fly will appreciate the speed benefits of this nifty tool. Pick up the 82mm version and you can use it with most lenses.
Rolls right of the tongue, doesn’t it? While this might not be an easy product name to remember, the product itself will definitely impress itself in your memory. Manfrotto’s Super Clamp is practically ubiquitous in studio photography and in this kit, it’s combined with a couple other items to form a versatile piece of equipment that will let you attach a camera or flash almost anywhere. Definitely worth throwing in the bag for those times when a simple tripod just doesn’t cut it.
Speaking of flashes, here’s a handy Speedlight from Yongnuo. While the Nikon unit is $84, the Canon unit is $114; but it averages out to under $100, so I thought I’d include it in the list. While I don’t have experience with this particular flash, I have 3 of the cheaper YN-560 IIIs and they’ve been rock solid performers for well over a year now. I recommend splurging on the YN-565EX here because it offers TTL capabilities, meaning you can set it to automatically adjust its brightness, unlike the all manual YN-560 III. This is great for day-to-day use where you want to focus on the moment rather than getting caught up in settings. Just be sure to get the flash specific to the user’s camera; Yongnuo offers both Nikon and Canon versions. (For the YN-560 III, it doesn’t matter, if you go that route).
Macro photography is one of the most fun endeavours you can undertake. It’s a fascinating and relaxing experience that lets you be a kid again as you marvel at the intricacies of our environment. For the photographer who needs a break from working hard on serious projects, get them a set of extension tubes and they’ll be wandering around the house for days looking for fun little things to shoot. Keep in mind that extension tubes require the right camera mount, so check what brand of camera the photographer uses to ensure compatibility. Here’s one for Canon, and the Nikon version.
Neutral density filters are another accessory that helps make photography a joy. Especially for landscape photography, a good ND filter opens up a world of possibilities. It’s a common item in gear bags, though, so if your photographer friend already does a lot of landscape photography, it’s best to ask if they already have a 10-stop ND filter. Also, it helps if you know the filter thread size of their lenses – if you get a 77mm filter, and their lens has an 82mm thread, it’ll be a bit small and might cause vignetting. If they don’t own one and you know what size they need, don’t hesitate to choose this gift. ND filters give you control over the fourth dimension – time – in your photos and are brilliant fun.
RØDE is a legend in the DSLR audio world, and for good reason. Their shotgun mics are nearly in as many gear bags as the nifty-fifty is, and have given independent videographers a lot of control over their video quality. Whether it’s used for home videos of family, short films, interviews, or BTS videos for a photographer’s business, the RØDE microphone can be counted on to deliver quality sound.
Gear is fun, and it’s even useful. Everything mentioned above is pretty awesome, and I really couldn’t do without some of them. Yet, by far, the most important thing to photographers is not equipment but education. And what is photography? It’s an art in which the medium is light. We paint with the tiny rays of colour that strike us daily. As such, I can think of no better gift than the book Light | Science & Magic. Whether you’re using off-camera flashes or natural light, it’s impossible to make great photos without understanding the light that creates them. I’ve read a lot of books, and this is one that I would recommend first to any photographer.
Of course, there are other great educational products out there as well. I’d be remiss not to mention SLR Lounge’s series of photography resources, created by the talented Pye Jirsa and the SLR Lounge team. I’d especially recommend checking out the Photography SEO and Web Marketing eBook if you need something for the professional photographer who has it all.
Be sure to share your under $100 gift suggestions as well, and together we’ll end the eternal pain that is shopping for photographers! (Or receiving gifts from friends who have no idea what to get you.)